Tampa Bay House Members at Odds over Finance Bill
Members of the U.S. House from the Tampa Bay area have divergent views – and votes – over a proposal to eliminate some rules governing banks and other financial institutions.
WASHINGTON, DC – Members of the U.S. House passed the Financial Choice Act of 2017 on Thursday (June 8), a law that would eliminate some of the rules put in place after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.
Among other things, the proposal, which will have to pass the U.S. Senate to become law, would exempt some financial institutions from requirements that limit risk taking.
The measure passed 233 to 186. All 233 votes were cast by Republicans. The 186 votes included 195 Democrats and one Republican. The party split was reflected in the way Tampa Bay lawmakers voted: U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, and Daniel Webster, R-Brooksville, voted in favor. U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, voted against. Webster, Crist and Castor issued statements:
Webster represents the 11th Congressional District, which includes Hernando and Citrus counties.
“Today, I voted to pass the Financial CHOICE Act (HR.10) and end the Obama-era Dodd-Frank Act, which was responsible for the largest increase in bureaucratic red-tape in history and resulted in the slowest economic recovery since World War II.
“The Financial CHOICE Act gives both consumers and small businesses more choices when it comes to accessing capital, which is the fuel of a growing economy. Employing over 55 percent of today’s workforce, small businesses play a vital role in our nation’s economic health. This bill corrects the errors of Dodd-Frank, specifically the heavy regulatory burdens placed on both lenders and small businesses that led to the anemic growth of the Obama years.
“Dodd-Frank regulations disproportionately burden small companies and prevent them from competing. As a small business owner, I understand the importance of fair competition, and the Financial CHOICE Act will ensure equal opportunity in the financial sector, not an emphasis on big business. I thank Rep. Jeb Hensarling for his commitment to this bill. After years of defeat, with President [Donald] Trump in the White House this bill has the opportunity to become law.
“The Financial CHOICE Act will:
- “Offer a massive regulatory relief to community banks and credit unions who do not have massive regulatory compliance departments to be able to handle the same regulatory burden as the big banks, so that consumers have more financial choices.
- “Put in place the harshest penalties on Wall Street for fraud and deception, providing more protections for consumers and small business owners.
- “Ends the taxpayer-funded bailouts of the ‘too big to fail’ banks, forcing banks who fail due to predatory behavior to go through a guided bankruptcy process.”
Castor represents the 14th Congressional District, which includes Tampa
“Republicans have forgotten the pain of working families in Tampa and across America during the Great Recession. I have not. I remember all too well how many people lost their homes and lost their jobs. I worked to keep many of my neighbors out of foreclosure and connect them with jobs. In response to the worst economic collapse in our lifetimes, I worked with colleagues to pass Wall Street Reform and outlaw the Wall Street risky deals that lead to the Great Recession. We took action so that the economic collapse we experienced would never happen again. Today, House Republicans rolled back many of the most important Wall Street reforms and consumer protections. They care more about their Wall Street buddies and big banks than working families, homeowners and small businesses.
“At the height of the economic collapse, one in 22 Florida homes entered foreclosure and the state’s unemployment rate rose to over 11 percent. Approximately 8 million Americans lost their jobs including more than 900,000 here in Florida while reducing the overall wealth of American families by 28.5 percent. Wall Street Reform restored responsibility and accountability, boosted confidence among American consumers and helped to stabilize our economy. Since the adoption of these common sense reforms, America has had a record 85 consecutive months of private-sector job growth and created more than 16 million jobs. The labor market continues to improve with the unemployment rate now at 4.9 percent here in Florida and wages on the rise.
“In the middle of the greatest financial crisis of our lifetime, we acted to reform Wall Street. While some updates to the law are needed, and I support some changes for community banks, overall the Republican bill today takes us back to the days when predatory lenders and profiteers on Wall Street abused consumers and brought our economy to the brink of collapse. This includes completely gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a strong and independent consumer ‘cop on the beat’ that has returned nearly $12 billion to 29 million consumers ripped off by predatory financial institutions. The bill also allows Wall Street fraudsters to get away scot-free and continue their misconduct by making it harder for the Securities and Exchange Commission to initiate enforcement actions and eliminating its authority to ban officers and directors from the industry. Moreover, safeguards for financial stability are diminished and rules will no longer apply to the largest banks to operate in a safe and sound manner meant to discourage unsafe risk-taking.
“After years of recklessness that led to the deepest recession of our lifetime, allowing Wall Street to go back to its old ways is irresponsible and dangerous. House Republicans should focus on working families – Main Street, instead of Wall Street – rather than taking us back to the dark days of financial crisis and heartache.”
Crist represents the 13th Congressional District, which includes mid- and south Pinellas County. Calling it the “Wrong Choice Act,” Crist made his statement to the House before the vote.
“I’d like to thank the Ranking Member for her strong leadership in this fight against the Wrong CHOICE Act.
“The bill before us is broken.
“I was governor of Florida when the financial crisis and foreclosure crisis rolled through my state like a hurricane.
“Unrestrained greed on Wall Street caused a preventable disaster because at no point did anyone say: This is simply wrong.
“I remember 2008 and 2009: the bailouts, the foreclosures, the long, painful road to recovery.
“The financial crisis exposed a broken regulatory system allowing Wall Street to gamble with Main Street’s future.
“With this bill, members are being asked to again trust the very people who brought us to this financial crisis.
“Don’t put them back in charge.
“Do not let them do it again.
“Please vote no.”
Financial Choice Act | Choice Act | Charlie Crist | Kathy Castor | Daniel Webster | Tampa Bay News | TB Reporter
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